[IMGCAP(1)]Each New Year brings with it issues and regulations—both new and revisited—that cause accountants and their small business clients to scramble in order to remain compliant with the law.

As these issues arise, they are likely to cause questions about the effect they might have on businesses and industries. For accountants to maintain and enhance their standing as clients’ most trusted advisor, they need to follow the following three issues closely:

The Affordable Care Act
For businesses defined as “applicable large employers” in the employer shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act, there are additional responsibilities to pay attention to this year. Applicable large employers will need to be prepared to meet new IRS mandates to file the 1094-C and the corresponding 1095-C employee statement.

The 1095-C must be provided to full-time employees and includes information about the health insurance coverage offered by the employer in 2015. Applicable large employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees and full-time equivalent employees may qualify for transition relief from employer shared responsibility penalty assessments until 2016.

However, they must meet certain conditions and certify them on the 1094-C transmittal. They are still responsible for filing 1095-Cs for all full-time employees. Applicable large employers with 100 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees are not eligible for transition relief.

Tax Extenders and Tax Reform
In December, President Obama signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, and in doing so expanded approximately 50 tax breaks retroactively through Dec. 31, 2014. The short-term extension of these tax breaks—such as bonus depreciation and accelerated expensing of certain asset purchases—did not delay the start of tax-filing season. However, the processing of returns and refunds may be affected by budget constraints.

It is possible that this extension could complicate a possible rewrite of the tax code this year, a topic that will certainly be front of mind with accountants this year.

Taxation of Online Sales
This is likely to be an issue affecting many businesses this year. To level the playing field between brick and mortar retailers and online merchants, and respond to state concerns about lost revenue, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act in May 2013, which would have allowed states to collect sales tax on purchases made by state residents regardless of where the seller is located.

The bill died in the 2014 lame duck session of Congress, but was re-introduced in the Senate on Tuesday. Because of the amount of tax revenue at stake, accountants should keep a close watch on the legislation and related activities.

Keeping tabs on regulatory and legislative issues can be a complicated task, one that many business owners need help with. Accountants should make a point of regularly allocating dedicated time to get up to speed on these issues and others. It’s yet another opportunity to show your clients that you’re looking out for their best interests.

Mike Trabold is director of compliance risk at Paychex, Inc.

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